May 22, 2020 - Brittany Garlin

#FeatureFriday with Groove Jones on How to Go Viral

If you Google “how to go viral” 931 million results will appear – why is that? A viral piece of content on the internet has the ability to reach a huge international audience without having to invest a ton of money or make any extra effort. In viral marketing, the social media user is the one making the decision to participate and share content, so it lessens the possibility of the brand coming across as invasive. Marketers, content creators, and brands all dream to have their campaign go viral – many do not succeed. But, Groove Jones did.

We had the honour to connect with Dan Ferguson, the marketing genius who was able to achieve 3.2 million views in just 48 hours. Dan is the Founder and Partner of Groove Jones, a creative and technology studio based in Dallas, TX. Let’s discover how he was able to achieve this success and how you can do the same.

Q1: Tell us about you agency.

Groove Jones works as a production arm for advertising agencies. We also work directly for brands and artists, as we did for the Marshmello production. We can provide full turnkey solutions for a brand, like a strategy, creative, development, and deployment. We are also an official developer for Facebook, Instagram, and Snap, so they reach out to us to develop augmented reality (AR) experiences directly with their ad sales team.

We are a single interdisciplinary team of artists, technologists, industrial designers, brand strategists, graphic designers, usability experts, interior designers, content creators, engineers, fabricators, and project managers. We love what we do and who we work with. Dogs (and cats) are welcome at our studio.

Q2: Tell us about your project with Marshmello.

This was a really fun production. We were contacted by the artist’s label who wanted to collaborate with us. Their marketing team wanted to create a new engaging and interactive piece with Marshmello’s Instagram followers. The label was referred to us by Warner Records, who we had worked with before and they liked what we had accomplished with Hobo Johnson and the band Disturbed.

Marshmello was launching a new product with a retailer and wanted to create something with the product. Which happened to be Stuffed Puffs Marshmallows. These are marshmallows with chocolate inside.

So we pitched the idea of creating an AR “Facegame” which we called MarshmelloCatch. The Facegame is an interactive camera experience where we use the participant’s face to control the game. The AR Camera Effect actually tracks parts of your face and we can create a fun game with it. The idea was to drop the marshmallows from the sky and you receive points for catching them in your mouth. Who doesn’t like playing with your food?!In 48 hours it was played 3.3 million times. 2 weeks later is hit 10 million views. After 6 months the filter had been used 50 million times, making it one of the most played AR filters on Instagram. To learn more about the case study click here.

GrooveJones-MarshmelloCatch

Q3: Walk me through your design process. What steps did you take and how involved was your client?

We start everything with a creative brief. Once we understand the client’s needs and what the creative direction is we being with static designs. Once we get sign off from the client on that, we begin creating 3d assets and developing the logic for the experience. Since this was a game, there is a lot of playtesting and finessing. Since this was a game, we had to do sound design. Luckily Marshmello was able to provide a music track for it. We get feedback from our test team and a user group and make the last changes before getting final signoff from the client. Since we are an official approved developer, we pushed the experience to the platform for the client. Then we gave them the link to launch.

Q4: How do you ensure your team understands the client’s vision and implements it correctly? What formats do you typically use for handling files off for development?

We have milestones where we ask the client to review and provide feedback. After the initial creative review, they begin to see the application come together in release builds. These are usually based on traditional software milestones like Alpha, Beta, and Gold Release reviews. We ended up pushing the AR experience through Instagram’s system for the client. Instagram gets final approval before it goes live to the public.

Q5: What was the biggest challenge with this project?

File size. Social AR platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat all have file size limitations for what you can do on their platforms. We had to create a game, with visual effects, logic, and Marshmello’s music – while keeping it under the file size limit.

Another challenge was creating a game that was short. We purposely did that to stay within the video capture capabilities of the platform as well. All Social Platforms have a limited time that you can record something. We wanted people to be able to record and share the entire experience. So we focused our efforts on creating something fun and short.

Q6: What made you decide to do a face game over another form of AR?

The client wanted to do something gamified. We know that people love to record themselves doing silly or cool things. So creating a facegame was the right thing to do.

Q7: How do you measure AR marketing ROI?

Engagement and shareability with the right audience is a strong ROI! When you create something and organically get an audience to interact and share something you know this was going to be a hit. In 2 weeks we hit 10,000,000 plays. People not only taking part in the activity, but they were also sharing it with their friends and family. They became the message. Every brand (or artist) wants this.

Our clients also want longer dwell times. We know that the longer a customer spends with a brand, especially having a great time, the stronger affinity they will have with that brand.

Q8: Why should a business try AR marketing?

AR is an inexpensive way to engage with your audience. It is free to put an AR experience on your Social Channels. You can put 100% of your budget towards creation and development. (One note – If you want the platform to promote it, then that is part of a media buy. But Marshmello achieved all of this success without a media buy.)

By using AR and a Camera you can really explore some new creative ways to help your brand breakout.

Q9: Why should a business try AR marketing?

AR is an inexpensive way to engage with your audience. It is free to put an AR experience on your social channels. You can put 100% of your budget towards creation and development. (One note – If you want the platform to promote it, then that is part of a media buy. But Marshmello achieved all of this success without a media buy.)

By using AR and a Camera you can really explore some new creative ways to help your brand breakout.

Q10: Have you noticed common elements for a campaign to go viral?

We’ve built several face games. The most common is to include the user’s image. Everyone wants to be the star.

Q11: What are some best practices for AR marketing?

  1. It must be purposely built. Do not try and use something that you may have created for another medium and expect it to be a wonderful AR experience. AR has so many fantastic possibilities. Explore them. 
  2. DO NOT TAKE A VIDEO AND PUT IT INTO AR, EXPECTING IT TO GO VIRAL. IT WILL NOT. Unless it is like what we did for the Dallas Mavericks. But that was really different.
  3. Have fun. Be silly. Be irreverent.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to Dan Ferguson and the rest of the Groove Jones team that shared their insights into how to go viral.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about content marketing and the topics discussed above. If you work at an agency and are interested in being a guest on our #FeatureFriday please reach out to yourfriends@agencyvista.com

If you want to talk social media, you can always find me on LinkedIn. I love connecting with social media marketers and creatives so don’t hesitate to reach out!

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